Governments are under pressure to show their ever more educated and informed citizens that schools, hospitals and other public services are getting better. Traditionally, they have done that by spending money and building things: look, a brand new hospital! Of course, everybody knows that there is more to service quality than dollars, bricks and mortar. But at least we can see and touch bricks and mortar. How can we put a finger on service quality?
New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.
Throughout 2014, People, Spaces, Deliberation has focused attention on the rising importance of mobile phones, cloud computing, data and business intelligence, and social media. These megatrends have dominated the technology and communications landscapes and promise to do so in the future as well.
Executives— in both the public and private spheres— are taking note of these megatrends. When asked, “Which do you believe will have the greatest positive impact on your business over the next five years?” survey respondents of a global report, Digital Megatrends 2015, from Oxford Economics gave the following answers.
Women make up almost half the world's labor force and perform most of its unpaid care work, for children, the elderly, and the disabled. They also earn less and own less than men — especially land and housing. And they face enormous constraints in the world of work — from laws that prevent them from opening bank accounts to social norms that push them into lower-paying, less secure jobs.
As a result women are more vulnerable to poverty than men.
The limited availability of data on poverty and inequality poses major challenges to the monitoring of the World Bank Group’s twin goals – ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity. According to a recently completed study, for nearly one hundred countries at most two poverty estimates are available over the past decade.Worse still, for around half of them there was either one or no poverty estimate available.* Increasing the frequency of data on poverty is critical to effectively monitoring the Bank’s twin goals.
Against this background, the science of “Big Data” is often looked to as providing a potential solution. A famous example of this science is “Google Flu Trends (GFT)”, which uses search outcomes of Google to predict flu outbreaks. This technology has proven extremely quick to produce predictions and is also very cost-effective. The rapidly increasing volumes of raw data and the accompanying improvement of computer science have enabled us to fill other kinds of data gaps in ways that we could not even have dreamt of in the past.
Penicillin was discovered almost 90 years ago and heralded the beginning of a revolutionary era in medicine. As the first antibiotic drug in existence, it was used to treat what had previously been severe and life-threatening illnesses, such as meningitis, pneumonia, and syphilis.
Poorly equipped schools, counterfeit medicine and elections decided by money are just some of the consequences of public sector corruption. Bribes and backroom deals don’t just steal resources from the most vulnerable – they undermine justice and economic development, and destroy public trust in government and leaders. Based on expert opinion from around the world, the Corruption Perceptions Index measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption worldwide, and it paints an alarming picture. Not one single country gets a perfect score and more than two-thirds score below 50, on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).
The Fall of Facebook
Facebook has won this round of the Internet. Steadily, grindingly, it continues to take an ever greater share of our time and attention online. More than 800 million people use the site on an average day. Individuals are dependent on it to keep up not just with their friends but with their families. When a research company looked at how people use their phones, it found that they spend more time on Facebook than they do browsing the entire rest of the Web. Digital-media companies have grown reliant on Facebook’s powerful distribution capabilities. They are piglets at the sow, squealing amongst their siblings for sustenance, by which I mean readers.
Most countries in the world measure their poverty using an absolute threshold, or in other words, a fixed standard of what households should be able to count on in order to meet their basic needs. A few countries, however, have chosen to measure their poverty using a relative threshold, that is, a cutoff point in relation to the overall distribution of income or consumption in a country.
The chart above shows the differences between relative and absolute poverty headcount ratios for countries that have measured both. You can select other countries from the drop down list, but for example, you can see that Romania switched from measuring poverty in absolute terms to measuring poverty in relative terms in 2006. Absolute poverty headcount ratios steadily declined from 35.9% in 2000 to 13.8% in 2006. However, by relative measures, the national poverty headcount ratio in 2006 was 24.8%. This does not mean that poverty bumped up in 2006. These two numbers are simply not comparable, but what exactly do they both mean?
A month ago, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) Kenya released a set of re-based and revised National Accounts Statistics (NAS), the culmination of an exercise that started in 2010. Press coverage, reactions from investors and the public have been generally favorable, but some confusion still looms regarding some of the facts and consequences. We wrote this blog post to debunk some of the myths.
NAS, including Gross Domestic Product (GDP), are typically measured by reference to the economic structure in a “base” year. Statisticians sample businesses in different industries to collect data that measures how fast they are growing. The weight they give to each sector depends on its importance to the economy in the base year. As time passes and the structure of the economy changes, these figures become less and less accurate.
Re-basing is a process of using more recently collected data to replace an old base year with a new one to reflect the structural changes in the economy. Re-basing also provides an opportunity to add new or more comprehensive data, incorporate new or better statistical methods, and apply advancements in classification and compilation standards. The current gold standard is the 2008 System of National Accounts (SNA).
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
The Challenge Of Connecting The Unconnected
Every time we return to or sign up for an Internet service (e.g. Facebook, Google, Gmail, YouTube, etc.), we rely on what UX experts call a “mental model” for navigating through the choices. A mental model is essentially a person’s intuition of how something works based on past knowledge, similar experiences and common sense. So even when something is new, mental models help to make sense of it, utilizing the human brain’s ability to transcode knowledge and recognize patterns. For instance, most of our grandparents can hit the ground running with changing the channel or increasing the volume when handed the remote control for the latest television available in the market today, squarely because of a well-developed mental model for TV remote control units. But our grandparents may not have the same level of success when using Internet services, smartphones or tablets. Under-developed mental models in these domains are their primary obstacles
Beyond Magic Bullets in Governance Reform
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Domestic reformers and external donors have invested enormous energy and resources into improving governance in developing countries since the 1990s. Yet there is still remarkably little understanding of how governance progress actually occurs in these contexts. Reform strategies that work well in some places often prove disappointing elsewhere. A close examination of governance successes in the developing world indicates that effective advocacy must move beyond a search for single-focus “magic bullet” solutions toward an integrated approach that recognizes multiple interrelated drivers of governance change.
This week the Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development released its report “A World That Counts: Mobilising the Data Revolution for sustainable Development.” Congratulations to the authors for crafting such a useful document so quickly, and thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts during the consultation period.